I forgot about you.
Pastor Bruce talked about you at church today and I was reminded of how important you are and how absent you’ve been in my life.
I’m so sorry that I’ve replaced you with shallow cheerfulness and kitschy well-wishing.
I mistook holiday spirit for the fruit of God’s spirit.
Bruce taught us that the world sees you, joy, as conditional, elusive, and precarious. I’m sorry that I have been viewing you that way, too. I thought I couldn’t find you because my circumstances aren’t the ideal that I have decided I want. I figured you must be out of my grasp because I wasn’t doing enough of the right things to deserve it. I assumed you were simply too lofty a concept to even imagine possible to evidence in my own life.
I traded my dancing and singing in for grieving. And in those mistakes, I missed you.
I missed how you show up, even in the darkest of circumstances. Bruce instructed us today, in search of joy, to remember that it comes from God, our Emmanuel, God With Us, and from our birthright in His family. I have forsaken the gift that is mine not because of what I do, but because of He to whom I belong. And I have been severely lacking this Christmas season as I have tried to muster up the energy and enthusiasm I think is needed to be what everyone wants me to be without the underlying foundation of joy that comes from knowing whose I am.
Today, I am reclaiming my joy.
My circumstances have not changed. I still have the same address, the same family, the same friends. I still attend the same church, still make the same amount of money, still look the same. I still eat the same things, still owe the same debts, still have the same passions. But I have decided to accept the gift that is freely offered to me daily in remembering that I serve the God of the universe, and not simply myself. I have access to the power that holds the world in the palm of His hand, and He has already claimed the victory in this life and the eternal next. I remember the joy of my salvation and the spirit of freedom that I was (re)born into. The things that challenge me most come from relationships with others (or the lack thereof), and that will always be present in my life. However, I am comforted and encouraged today by the knowledge that my God assigned me a purpose on this earth with a full comprehension of m limitations. One of my favorite things about God is that He is never surprised by anything. He knows exactly what I am in this world for and He has orchestrated that I’d have everything I need to accomplish that. So when it doesn’t seem that way to me, I will remember that Christ came to earth, we celebrate at Christmas, to be the incarnate God who provides all that we need. I will rejoice in that today, and every day, and find joy in this journey.
“The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies— and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory.” (Isaiah 61:1-3, MSG)